All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Desert of Maine

Freeport's Desert of Maine gets a write-up in today's New York Times. The "desert" was formed when glacial silt laid down in the last Ice Age was exposed in the 19th century.
Enter William Tuttle, a farmer who bought 300 acres of prime farmland in 1797. Tuttle built a large post-and-beam barn on the site and operated a successful farm for decades, raising cattle and crops. His descendants added sheep to sell wool to textile mills. Poor crop rotation and overgrazing by sheep, which tear the plants out of the soil by the roots, resulted in soil erosion and something eerily beyond.

One day, a patch of sand the size of a dinner plate became exposed. It grew until the family became alarmed. But it was too late. The “desert” had made its entrance, and the more the soil eroded, the more the sand underneath was exposed. [Link]

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